Walk on Rye Middle Schoolers

Inspired by the International Walk/Bike To School day movement, students in Mr. Borchert’s RMS Alive project took the lead in promoting Walk/Bike to School Week (WBSW) October 7-11.

rms walk srts fall 2013 002
Published October 25, 2013 5:00 AM
3 min read

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rms walk srts fall 2013 002Inspired by the International Walk/Bike To School day movement, students in Mr. Borchert’s RMS Alive project took the lead in promoting Walk/Bike to School Week (WBSW) October 7-11.

 

By Bill Lawyer 

 

rms walk srts fall 2013 002Inspired by the International Walk/Bike To School day movement, students in Mr. Borchert’s RMS Alive project took the lead in promoting Walk/Bike to School Week (WBSW) October 7-11.

 

“These young people brought their walking and biking experiences from elementary school with them and wanted to take them to the next level,” said Borchert. He set up the project as an educational process — one which students developed from planning to execution to evaluation.

 

A steering committee made up of Bea Flynn, Faith Bennett, Jane Hentschel, Chloe Seiler, and Kayla Patel got the ball rolling. They recruited students to make promotional posters, and about two-dozen were put up all around the school.

 

Next, the group put together a PowerPoint presentation. The committee then visited classrooms, reaching about one-quarter of the entire middle school student body. They also wrote announcements, which they read over the school’s loudspeaker system, reminding students about WBSW and its importance.

 

“There is no better way to encourage students and their families to engage in a lifetime of healthy activities than by giving them the experience of walking and biking to school,” said Lauren Marchetti, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which serves as the coordinating agency for the event.

 

In Rye, assistance for the project has been provided by the YMCA, and coordinated by Lisa Urban and volunteers Maureen Gomez and Lucy Cassidy. 

 

rms walk srts fall 2013 014“Walking or riding to Rye Middle School is more important that ever, to relieve the congestion being caused by the major high school construction project,” explained Cassidy.

 

The three coordinators reached out to all middle school science classes to survey how many students walked or rode bikes the week before and the week of WBSW. Teachers collected the results daily and passed them on to Cassidy,

 

The combined percentage of walkers and bikers to school was about 33% the walk week before the Walk. Due to bad weather on Thursday of Walk/Bike Week, the numbers dipped, but only slightly, all part of the learning experience.

 

As an additional, informal component of WBSW, middle school English teacher Peter Gouveia has started a Walk to School Wednesdays program for students who live at the northern end of Rye. Some like it so much that they go out of their way to join in, as a way of “meeting up” with friends. 

 

According to Urban, who accompanied a group recently, students meet at Starbucks around 7:20 a.m., order hot chocolate or a breakfast sandwich or muffin and try to leave around for school by 7:30 a.m.

 

“The walk is only three-quarters of a mile,” said Urban, “but we had a contingent of 15 to 20 children each week.”  

 

Despite the low survey numbers, the student coordinators already feel gratified at the success of the planning and promotional components of their project. As Chloe Seiler said, “We believe that our project has really changed the way many students think and act.” 

 

The YMCA and parent volunteer project coordinators highlighted the positive as well. “We’re happy to see that about one-third of the students are already walking and biking to school. And, nearly 40% are walking home,” said Gomez. 

 

Plans are already being made to carry out a more effective WBSW Week in the spring, tied into Earth Day activities. They are looking forward to Mr. Borchert’s students again taking the lead in bringing up the numbers. 

 

They’re even considering scheduling a car-free campus day on Parsons Street, similarly to what downtown Rye does on the day of Halloween window painting. 

 

Both the parents and the students feel that “this is just the beginning.” 

 

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